Seebeck Effect at the Atomic Scale
Eui-Sup Lee,1 Sanghee Cho,2 Ho-Ki Lyeo,2,* and Yong-Hyun Kim1,†
(Received 25 August 2013; published 1 April 2014)
The atomic variations of electronic wave functions at the surface and electron scattering near a defect have been detected unprecedentedly by tracing thermoelectric voltages given a temperature bias [Cho et al., Nat. Mater. 12, 913 (2013)]. Because thermoelectricity, or the Seebeck effect, is associated with heatinduced electron diffusion, how the thermoelectric signal is related to the atomic-scale wave functions and what the role of the temperature is at such a length scale remain very unclear. Here we show that coherent electron and heat transport through a pointlike contact produces an atomic Seebeck effect, which is described by the mesoscopic Seebeck coefficient multiplied by an effective temperature drop at the interface. The mesoscopic Seebeck coefficient is approximately proportional to the logarithmic energy derivative of local density of states at the Fermi energy. We deduced that the effective temperature drop at the tip-sample junction could vary at a subangstrom scale depending on atom-to-atom interaction at the interface. A computer-based simulation method of thermoelectric images is proposed, and a point defect in graphene was identified by comparing experiment and the simulation of thermoelectric imaging.
PRL 112, 136601 (2014) PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 4 APRIL 2014